ALL the speculation is over, all the arguments are done and all the ifs, buts and maybes are no more. Willie Goldsmith the three-year-old chestnut colt by Traditional-Gracious Gift is a special race horse.
Racing in the Prince Consort Stakes last Saturday over seven furlongs against the best of his peers, Willie Goldsmith the odds on favourite, not only thoroughly dismantled his opponents, he disgraced them with a performance which truly sets him apart from the rest.
He raced down quickly from the number nine draw, was always in touch with the leaders without even breaking a sweat, and when his 'pilot' Omar Walker pulled the throttle with two and a half furlongs left, Willie Goldsmith accelerated in a flash and just kept on going and going for a facile five-length victory with the Wayne DaCosta pair of Perfect Neighbour (O Foster) and Hover Craft (R McNaughton) second and third, respectively.
Placing the run by Willie Goldsmith into perspective, one has to remain cautious lest be swept away in the euphoria of his Prince Consort performance. This is the colt's third victory from three starts, one as a two-year-old and now two at three. He has not gone past seven furlongs, and trainer Patrick Chang who has handled him with great care, has chosen to keep him in age group company. Point here is that there is still a ways to go before the accolade of great is pinned on his shoulders.
'Willie', as he is affectionately called by racing fans, displays all the attributes of a special race horse. He has pace, can lead when required, he possesses that rare gift of being able to accelerate quickly, change of gears as they say in racing parlance and to date seems to have no problems going a mile and over, which is a major requirement if he is to compete effectively in the longer Classic races and beyond.
Willie Goldsmith is a young talented horse from whom, based on performances to date, much is expected. The run in the Prince Consort highlights his vast potential, he has endeared himself already to racing fans, but we should give him breathing space to develop and grow. Let us watch his progress closely and then determine his status in racing.
Perfect Neighbour, racing for the first time this year, came with his usual burst in the final furlong of the Prince Consort, but was not a challenging factor to Willie Goldsmith. This run for sure will aid his development going to the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday, April 6, but if we are to face facts, Perfect Neighbour would have to improve literally ten-fold to conqueror 'Willie'.
Hover Craft, listed as the top local two-year-old of last year, came into the Prince Consort for his first run as a three-year-old. As is usually the case, he was behind for much of the race and his anticipated late surge did not materialise as by then Willie Goldsmith was leading a procession. Hover Craft will, like his stable companion Perfect Neighbour, benefit from his Prince Consort outing but maybe there is too much to be done in too short a time period for his to mount a serious challenge to Willie Goldsmith in the 2000 Guineas.
The only thing certain in racing is unpredictability. A lot might change before the horses take the track for the 2000 Guineas but for now, with all things being equal, Willie Goldsmith is the horse to beat and for sure he will be the overwhelming favourite.
This augurs well for racing as the Classic campaign is what sets tongue wagging, brings people to the track and the Off Track Betting parlours and which leads to greater participation in the tote.
The preparation races for the Classics are now over. Willie Goldsmith and Argentina have announced themselves emphatically as the leaders of their respective three-year-old pack. Others, including Rock Union, who did not race in the Prince Consort are expected to make improvements, but for now the spotlight shines brightly on 'Willie' and Argentina.
PICK-9 NOT CAUGHT
Apart from the anticipated run of Willie Goldsmith, the big attraction among punters was the Pick-9 exotic wager which on Saturday started at $3.5 million. With 11 races on the day, all well subscribed, the bankers were few and far between.
Races three to 11 were listed as the Pick-9 events. After the running of the first three of these races, punters were elated as the favourites all obliged. As it turned out there were no major upsets in the nine races, yet the wins by Mr Butcher and Social Butterfly, both at 9-1 denied anyone winning this lucrative bet.
The carryover for the Pick-9 now stands at a whopping
$4.7 million going into Wednesday's raceday when 11 very well-supported and competitive races are on offer. Anyone who is able to win the Pick-9 on Wednesday will surely collect over $6 million.
BAD DAY FOR TOP RIDERS
The 11-race programme on Saturday proved to be a nightmare for the top riders. Dane Nelson, the champion rider was winless, Dick Cardenas rode one winner, Double Button in the first race, Omar Walker had the armchair ride on Willie Goldsmith, while Shane Ellis continued his success with trainer Spencer Chung piloting Derby winner of last year Typewriter to a relatively easy win.
The riding performance of
the day came in the nightcap when the 'little man' Prince Holder brought the Carl Anderson-trained Dancinwiththecats with a stirring run to catch and beat Aparajita (Kurin Powell) and She's My Honey (Davidan Robinson) in the nick of time, winning by a neck. His stocks are rising very fast.
It was not better for the trainers, as all 11 races were won by different conditioners.